Police teargas opposition

The following is an edited excerpt from the Commonwealth Report explaining the circumstances of the video contained below:

According to the 2009 Affirmation of Commonwealth Values and Principles, member states must uphold “the inalienable right of the individual to participate by means of free and democratic political processes in shaping the society in which they live; underlining that not only governments but all political parties and civil society also have responsibilities in upholding and promoting democratic culture and practices as well as accountability to the public in this regard.”

These principles with respect to democracy have been seriously and persistently violated by President Sata and the PF government through the repeated arrests of opposition figures on false pretenses, defamation, and fictitious accusations of criminal activity levelled against opponents of the state.

Immediately following the 2011 election, the PF government embarked on a revanchist campaign of score settling against members of the former government, using the pretext of the “anti-corruption fight” to eliminate political competition.

Apart from a few isolated cases which went forward to trial, the PF’s accusations against opposition members have come up empty.  In some cases, the bogus prosecutions have been abandoned, but in others, the government continues to press on depite an absence of evidence. (…)

The leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), Hakainde Hichilema, has endured repeated harassment and unspecified threats of investigation, including an alleged attack upon his home by a group of Patriotic Front cadre youths that the police neglected to prevent.[1]  He is the target of at least three lawsuits from President Sata seeking millions in compensation.  Mr. Hichilema also suffered significant injuries on 9 August 2012 when he was called in for questioning at Lusaka Central police station, when he and his supporters were teargassed indoors by the police, causing a violent stampede.  Two days later, despite his injuries, Mr. Hichilema was arrested and later charged with “publication of false news” related to comments he made to a newspaper regarding the Patriotic Front’s agreement with the ruling party of Sudan to train their youth cadres.  The media outlet which published these comments was not charged.  On 4 October 2012, Zambian police fired live rounds inside court grounds during Mr Hichilema’s court hearing, causing panicked citizens to flee from the scene.  On 17 January 2017, Mr. Hichilema was arrested yet again by the police for alleging insulting the president, while a week earlier police had controversially disrupted a court hearing and attempted an arrest, prompting a furious response from the judge before this breakdown in the rule of law.



[1] “HH dares Sata to have him arrested,” Zambia24, Jan. 16, 2012 (http://zambia24.com/latest-news/hh-dares-sata-to-have-him-arrested.html).

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